Breakaway Camps and Prison Fellowship. How Did it Begin?
Over 22 years ago, Prison Fellowship WA saw an opportunity to support children and families who had a parent in prison through camping. In 1995, the first Breakaway Camp ran, directed by Ian and Margaret Standing, who had a God-given heart for these particular children and families. Ian and Margaret were Directors of Camp Cooinda at the time and on the committee for SUPA Camping. Prison Fellowship had been looking to start a camp for several years without success but decided to give one last look for volunteers who could run the program and approached SU WA. This request was passed to the SUPA Camping committee and Ian jumped at the opportunity, as serving and supporting families who had someone in prison was something God had put on his heart.
Breakaway Camps have evolved over time with the first camps focusing on safety – every child has the right to be safe at all times – and teaching protective behaviours through a loving Christian community. The camps involved police from the Juvenile Action Group coming out to camp. The police officers loved what Breakaway was doing and became involved in their program, helping run games and bring the squad car for the kids to see. Currently Breakaways adopt the goals of: faith formation – introducing children and young people to Jesus; restoration – providing Christian community and real relationships that provide healing; and fun and engagement – to have positive fun, challenge and adventure.
We now run 6 Breakaway camps a year (4 Breakaway Kids, 2 Breakaway Youth). Of the campers that come on Breakaway Camps, on average 63% have been before and 68% of leaders have lead before. This creates a growing, nurturing community for campers and families over time, providing the building blocks for relationships to continue to grow and faith to flourish.
With Breakaway Camps currently well established, together with Prison Fellowship, we are looking to grow these communities and relationships to mentoring, church connection for families, and retreat days for parents and caregivers.